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John C. Harsanyi

AKA John Charles Harsanyi

Born: 29-May-1920
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: 9-Aug-2000
Location of death: Berkeley, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Economist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Game theory

For their pioneering work in game theory, John C. Harsanyi, John Nash, and Reinhard Selten shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics. Game theory is a system for using mathematics to predict the outcome of competitive games like chess or poker, which can also be applied to political and economic conflicts such as labor negotiations, business competition, international political tensions, etc.

Harsanyi studied pharmacy in college, but his education was interrupted by World War II. His father was Catholic, but his mother was Jewish, and that was enough to enslave Harsanyi in a Nazi forced labor camp. In transit to the death camps, he escaped, and spent the remainder of the war hidden by Jesuits in the cellar of their monastery. When Hitler was defeated, Harsanyi went back to college, but having had years to reconsider, he switched his major to philosophy. After graduating, he taught sociology until his anti-Marxist views made him persona non grata in the increasingly hard-line communist Hungary. Escaping the Iron Curtain into Austria with his girlfriend, they settled in Australia, where they were married. Harsanyi worked in a factory while attending night school and teaching himself English. He later earned a second PhD in his second language, and taught for several decades at the University of California in Berkeley.

Father: Charles Harsanyi (pharmacist)
Mother: Alice Gombos Harsanyi
Wife: Anne Klauber (dated 1948-51, m. 2-Jan-1951)
Son: Tom Harsanyi

    High School: Fasori Lutheran Gymnasium, Budapest, Hungary (1937)
    University: PhD Philosophy, University of Budapest (1947)
    Teacher: Sociology, University of Budapest (1947-48)
    University: MA Economics, University of Sydney (1953)
    Teacher: Economics, University of Queensland (1953-55)
    University: PhD Economics, Stanford University (1959)
    Teacher: Economics, Australian National University (1959-62)
    Professor: Economics, Wayne State University (1962-64)
    Professor: Business, UC Berkeley (1964-65)
    Professor: Economics, UC Berkeley (1965-90)

    Nobel Prize for Economics 1994 (with John Nash and Reinhard Selten)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Economic Association
    Econometric Society
    National Academy of Sciences
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Risk Factors: Alzheimer's

Author of books:
Rational Behavior and Bargaining Equilibrium in Games and Social Situations (1977)
Essays on Ethics, Social Behavior, and Scientific Explanation (1976)
Papers in Game Theory (1982)
A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games (1988, with Reinhard Selten)

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